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Trick or Treat
By Jim Campbell

  What kind of trick would bring over 5,000 people in the Cape May area to witness or participate in a real treat. The event was Cape May’s Second Annual Hallowe’en Carnival that took place on November 3, 1916. The two hour parade started at 8:00 at Washington and Franklin Streets and ended at Washington and Perry Streets.

  The largest contingent in the parade was the Cape May High School with 148 students led by principal Butterwick. The senior class marched in cap and gown and the freshmen brought up the rear with a prairie schooner pulled by an old horse and followed by several cows. In the middle of the high school contingent was a float depicting the crowded conditions in the high school (the one that once stood where the Acme is now).

  The high school kids got a$ 10.00 first prize for having the largest representation in the parade and another $10.00 first prize for the most grotesquely dressed organization as well as a third prize in the best decorated float category.

  Of Cape May’s numerous "secret societies" only the Ogallala Tribe of the Improved Order of Red Men, the Cold Spring Council of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics and the Cold Spring Order of the Patriotic Sons of America are mentioned as appearing in the parade, although others may have been in the line of march.

  The Women’s Christian Temperance Union had a float that was described as "very expressive and prophetic". Prohibition was only a few years away.

  The Wildwood Fire Department arrived with two "magnificent large motor fire trucks" and two strong blue columns. The Cape May firemen followed with apparatus drawn by "magnificent horses."

  You’ve come a long way! This 1910 photograph of Cape firemen of yesteryear draws a sharp contrast to the modern, efficient Cape May Volunteer Fire Department of today. Pictured here are Driver Chad Poulson and City Engineer Jim Rice with their fire horses, "Harry" (right) and "Joe."

 

  A number of automobiles appeared in the parade including Woodruff Eldredge’s new Studebaker in

  Hallowe’en colors and one made to appear as a Cape May Point trolley car described as a "humorous but realistic representation of our former ‘one lungers’" which won first prize for best decorated float.

  The large contingent from Wildwood, which included a suffrage float, was led by the Baker brothers in automobiles decorated with flowers.

  Mayor Stevens presented the prizes from the reviewing stand at Washington and Ocean Streets. Among the prizes that were awarded, Oscar Tenenbaum got first prize for the best Charlie Chaplin, with Charley Swain coming in second and Charley Schellenger third. William Porter’s Cape May Band provided the music for the skating competition that followed the presentation of the prizes.

  Although the 1916 Halloween parade was for adults, our Halloween parades now are for children and maybe that is the way it should be. Or maybe there should be two parades?

Source for this article: Cape May Star and Wave November 4, 1916

 

 

THE FIRST VISITOR TO CAPE MAY
Prepared by Jim Campbell

  In the year 1813 Mr. Caleb Rodgers, a Quaker, left Philadelphia for a sail down the river, taking passage in a small sloop, called the “Relict,” which made about two trips a month, and was the only communication of South Jersey with the outside world. This first man was landed at Godfrey’s Landing, near Town Bank, and carried his trunk to the island, and thus finding one friendly cabin, he inquired for boarding at the sea-side, but was told that as only one habitation was on Cape May, and that of only two rooms, it was a puzzle to know where to stow away this first arrival. But Mr. Hughes, the resident, being a kind-hearted man, furnished him a temporary couch in the first story of the cabin - it would scarcely pass for more in those days. Mr. Rodgers had his wife to prepare a red bathing suit before departing, and soon after his arrival he went to the shore and donned the first bathing robe ever known at Cape May. Our grand nucleus now ventured near the billows amid the astonished gaze of Resident Hughes, his wife and four youngsters, who stood on the bank and wondered what possessed the new-comer; he was set down as crazy . A dip was continued for several days, and the rumor of the strange advent speedily spread in the surrounding country, and men, women and children came riding up to the island on horseback and in ox carts to witness this wonderful character in his gorgeous costume of fiery red go down and duck his body in the water.

After two weeks of enjoyment Mr. Rodgers was driven to Dennisville, nineteen miles  distant, in an ox cart, and took passage from there in a craft that was running regularly, carrying wood to Philadelphia, and bringing family supplies in return. Upon the Quaker’s arrival in this city his pleasures were published in a letter read at the Sunday service of the old Christ’s Church, and the public notified of this new pleasure spot. On the next season a small schooner was charted to make regular trips, and was well patronized. The news astonished Resident Hughes, and a great rush of people, sometimes as high as twelve, would arrive at a time. He arranged a temporary cabin for guests, and this was Cape May in the beginning.

The above article appeared on the front page of the July 9, 1874 issue of the Cape May Ocean Wave.

There was a Mr. Hughes living on Cape Island back then and he had four children. His name was Memucan Hughes. He and his brother Ellis operated taverns on Cape Island and Memucan was indicted by a grand jury in 1799 for creating a public nuisance. That is the problem with the above article, the year 1813. Ellis Hughes placed advertisements in a Philadelphia newspaper as early as 1801, promoting Cape Island as a place to get away from it all and Cape Island was know as a resort long before then.

Memucan Hughes house is believed to be the oldest house still standing in Cape May (built around 1775) and is now the Colonial House, a museum of Cape May history maintained by the Greater Cape May Historical Society It was originally located on the current site of Alexander’s Restaurant and is now behind City Hall and is open to the public in the summer. Scratched on the outside of a second story window pane are the names of a couple and dated June 10, 1806. One is Elizabeth Eldredge. The other Eldredge’s first name is illegible. A couple named Enoch and Elizabeth Eldredge were married in the Old Brick Church on February 19, 1805, and are buried in the churchyard. Enoch’s sister married a son of Ellis Hughes. They were all one big, happy family back then.

The Colonial House will reopen in June with an exhibit of famous visitors to Cape May and we encourage everyone to pay a visit (and maybe become another famous visitor).

Sources for this article: Cape May Ocean Wave July 9, 1874, Cape May County, New Jersey by Jeffery M. Dorwart and Hughes Family of Cape May County, New Jersey 1650-1950 by Raymond Hughes.

 


George Otto with Pearl S. Buck, Cape May Convention Hall, June 29, 1950
-moments before she gave her speech-
Photo Courtesy of: FRIENDS GENERAL CONFERENCE Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Pearl S. Buck Visit to Cape May
June 1950
By Dolores Raisch

Pearl S. Buck was a prolific, talented author and the first American woman to win both the Pulitzer Prize (in 1932 for The Good Earth) and the Nobel Prize (in 1938 for Literature). During the course of her lifetime she wrote more than 100 novels, children’s books and nonfiction works. She was also a loving wife, devoted mother, humble activist and outspoken humanitarian. In 1950, she was invited by her Newtown, Pennsylvania friends George and Ella Otto to speak to the Friends General Conference. This Quaker Conference was a week-long event held biennially in Cape May in the years 1928 through 1968. In 1950, George Otto was Chairman of the Conference Committee.

 Pearl Buck was asked to speak to the main session on Thursday, June 29, 1950. Records show that Pearl Buck’s scheduled talk was titled "Can We Be Friends with the Chinese?" History intervened, however, and the theme

of her talk was dramatically altered. Shortly before her arrival in Cape May, Pearl Buck had learned of the outbreak of the Korean War. Upon hearing that the United States had committed ground troops to the conflict, she scrapped her carefully prepared speech and instead spoke passionately and extemporaneously from her heart to the standing-room-only crowd that had gathered to listen. Those in attendance will never forget the passion with which Pearl Buck spoke about the beginning of war in Korea and the tremendous impact of world events in all our lives.

  Mrs. Otto recalls today how Pearl Buck spoke directly to the young people in her audience. Very distraught over the outbreak of the Korean War, she appealed to the youth to "read a little history every day." She fervently believed that all people, particularly young people, need to better appreciate the diverse cultures of the world, in order "to gain an understanding of events of the present and to be able to recognize trends for the future." She added, "the world belongs to the young people and the making of the new world is theirs."

  Her vision became her legacy. Awards for her written accomplishments meant little to Pearl Buck when compared to her dedication to children; especially the helpless and unwanted children of the world. This love and concern for human rights for all children would become her greatest achievement.

  In 1949, near her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, she founded the small and humble "Welcome House" adoption agency, for placing unwanted and abandoned children of mixed Asian-American parentage in permanent homes. Thanks to her efforts, the seeds that were planted to welcome her ‘little world children’ - just one year before her appearance in Cape May - blossomed and thrives today as Pearl S. Buck International Inc., a foundation which continues to help children worldwide.

To learn more about the life of Pearl S. Buck, visit her historic home
in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.... or visit the Pearl S. Buck International Inc.
website at
www.pearl-s-buck.org

 

THE DELAWARE BAY AND RIVER PILOTS

By Jim Campbell

  Just before dawn on December 27, 1879, the pilot boat E.C. Knight was off Cape Henlopen with five pilots, on the watch for incoming vessels several of which were expected. It was freezing cold and the decks of the E.C. Knight were covered with ice. An apprentice pilot, 16 year old Joseph Gregory, "stood astride of the main sheet whilst the sheet was jibing, taking in the slack of the sheet when the pin broke and he was thrown backward into the water". Pilot John Bennett and others cautioned him that what he was doing was dangerous but to no avail. Every effort to rescue him was unsuccessful.

  Piloting in the days of sail was a dangerous profession and required a high degree of skill in seamanship. In 1788 a "Society for the Relief of Distressed and Decayed Pilots, their Widows and Children was formed and was still in existence in 1890.

  In the late nineteenth century there were eight sail pilot boats in operation. Three of them were from the Cape May area and the others from Lewes, Delaware. The pilot boats were built for speed because, at that time, whichever boat got to an incoming ship first got the job of piloting it up the Delaware and the competition was intense. Edwin C. Knight, a Philadelphia sugar refiner, financed the construction of the pilot boat that bore his name. It was built for a group of younger pilots who intended to take it as far as 200 miles out to sea to pick up an incoming vessel long before it reached the other pilot boats. About the only time the Cape May and Lewes pilot boats cooperated was in taking off each others pilots from outgoing ships.

  Thirty-six pilots worked on the E.C. Knight at various times, including 8 Eldredges, 7 Hughes, 5 Bennetts, and two each Hands, Schellengers and Stevens. Eventually the E. C. Knight was sold to the Alaskan Packing Company and sailed to the west coast by way of Cape Horn.

  The Cape May pilot boats anchored at the low tide mark off Higbee Beach. According to Tish (Wilson) Fleischhauer (now deceased), the Wilson family lived in the old hotel at Higbee Beach for many years. Each evening a member of the Wilson family would take a kerosene lamp up to a cupola on top of the hotel to guide the pilot boats in and the pilots often stayed overnight in the hotel.

  Charlotte Bouton, whose grandfather, William Eldredge, was the senior pilot on the Delaware for a number of years, tells us there was a pilot who was notorious for his bad temper. The pilots would have to use a skiff to get to the pilot boats anchored off shore at high tide and the apprentice pilots would have to piggy-back their pilots to the skiff so the pilots wouldn’t get their feet wet. As the bad tempered pilot was being piggy-backed to the skiff from the shore he berated his apprentice about something and his apprentice "slipped" plunging his pilot into the bay.

  In 1896, the pilots formed the Delaware Bay and River Pilots Association. Thereafter they assigned the pilots to incoming vessels on a rotating basis and stopped undercutting each other. With that, the pilot’s incomes rose dramatically.

  After the construction of the deep water channel to Philadelphia the Cape May pilots migrated over time to Lewes which was closer to the channel than Cape May, thus closing an interesting era in Cape May area history.

Sources: Cape May Wave January 3, 1880, Star of the Sea Supplement January 1, 1880, Pilots of the Bay and River Delaware by James E. Marvil, M.D. and One Hundred Year History of the Pilot’s Association of the Bay and River Delaware 1896-1996.

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